Food in the stomach is broken down by digestive juices. The stomach itself is protected from these digestive juices by a mucous lining. Gastritis is a common condition of the gastrointestinal system, characterised by inflammation or irritation of the stomach’s lining caused by weakness in the mucous lining. Gastritis can be caused by stress, excess alcohol consumption, certain medicines and bacterial/viral infections.
Gastritis can be chronic (develop over time) or acute (occur suddenly). The symptoms may include bloating, indigestion, loss of appetite, burning or gnawing feeling in the stomach, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and a feeling of fullness in the upper abdomen.
Your doctor may recommend some diagnostic tests to confirm the cause of gastritis. These can include:
- Stool test: to determine the presence of blood in stools and the presence of Helicobacter pylori infection.
- Blood Test: to determine the presence of Helicobacter pylori infection and red blood cell count
- Barium swallow or upper gastrointestinal series: You will be asked to swallow a white liquid (barium) that coats your digestive tract. A series of X-ray images of the upper gastrointestinal tract are captured to assess for abnormalities.
- Endoscopy: A thin tube with a tiny camera (endoscope) is inserted through the mouth and advanced into the stomach to check for inflammation in the lining.
The treatment of gastritis is aimed at treating the underlying cause. Your doctor may prescribe medications such as antacids or proton pump inhibitors to lower the levels of acid (neutralize) in the stomach. Antibiotics may be prescribed if gastritis is caused due to infection. Your doctor may advice you to avoid caffeine, alcohol, certain medicines and some foods that may increase the symptoms of gastritis.